In today's internet terms, social networking is roughly defined as specific groups of people getting together for a specific purpose. This concept exists both online and off and is as old as humans communicated. However, social networking on the internet has really exploded in popularity and is today's most preferred choice.
People do still get together offline for social networking, but it is so important online that it pretty much defines the way the internet works nowdays. Other tools, such as social bookmarking, are only subsets of social networking.
WHY SOCIAL NETWORKING ONLINE?
Think about your community. What kinds of organizations and groups exist? You may have a group of friends you regularly spend time with. You may be part of an organization and attend meetings. Or depending on you a study group in college.
The problem with this is that it is a little limiting. People respond to social networking on the internet because you have access to millions of people. This means that no matter what you want to accomplish, you can potentially do so on a large scale.
It also means that people like business owners can potentially reach a large audience for their product or service. Think about it. Facebook already has a wide range of people on the site. The demographic information is readily available. All of this indicates that if the site is used correctly, the site can certainly be something that people will start using more and more for entrepreneurial endeavors.
HOW DOES FACEBOOK FIT IN?
Facebook is currently the second largest social networking site on the internet, and it is growing fast. This means that millions of people have accounts, form networks and groups, add people to their friends list, and use the website to socialize and keep in touch.
If you decide you want to put social networking online into your marketing strategy, all you need to do is create an account with Facebook, build up your profile, get acquainted with the features, and socialize.
FIND LIKE-MINDED PEOPLE
The idea is to decide what you want to accomplish with Facebook and then use the tools on the site to build up your profile. Once you do that, you can find people to add to your friends list and join networks and groups.
If you have no idea what you want to do on the site, you can just create a general profile and look at the profiles of others. The basic idea is to find people that you know or want to get to know. Even if you're using the site to further your business, you need to stick with this idea.
ETHICS OF SOCIAL NETWORKING
There are some ethics to consider before you start social networking. First of all, it is important to always have in mind the fact that social networking is very community oriented. You need to ask yourself if your actions help support that community. If they do not you could potentially be violating the unspoken rules.
Basically, if your actions while social networking make people upset, sad, or angry, you're not handling it in a very ethical way. The same rules that you use when with someone in person apply online. Behind the profile picture there is a real person.
Another element that is rigidly adhered to is a no-SPAM policy. This means that if anything you do can be interpreted as SPAM, then it is not allowed. If you're stumped as to what that means, consider what would annoy you. Constant sales pitches sent to your inbox? Do you get posts on your wall advertising products? These activities would annoy almost everyone.
If you conduct yourself in an ethical and civil manner, you will make the community a better place. If you do not, you should not even sign up for a Facebook account instead of potentially costing yourself business.